Johannes Swammerdam

Other name: 
colleague from Amsterdam who visited but found him hard to reason with
Birth or Baptism date: 
February 12, 1637
Death or Burial date: 
February 17, 1680

In addition to Hartsoeker, Swammerdam was the other major Dutch microscopist of the Golden Age. He published in the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions alongside Leeuwenhoek in vols 8 and 10. Swammerdam put his energy into studying the life cycle of insects and developed influential techniques, including wax injection, for examining, preserving, and dissecting specimens. They visited and corresponded and referred to each other in their letters to others.

Leeuwenhoek wrote to Henry Oldenburg on September 7, 1674 (AB 11):

Dr. Swammerdam hath again within this fortnight visited me twice, accompanied with a Gentleman, to both of which I have shew'd many of these Microscopical Observations, and of such others as I had formerly spoken to him about; perceiving that his speculations are busy upon this subject, and that probably he will discourse more largely of it than I have done hitherto.

Swammerdam wrote to Melchisedec Thevenot on April 28, 1678:

It is impossible to go into discussion with him [Leeuwenhoek], as he is biased, and reasons in a very barbarical way, having no academic education.

Between those two letters, Swammerdam spent the winter of 1675-76 with the mystic Antoinette Bourignon.

The most common portrait of Swammerdam, on the right, does not depict Swammerdam. There is no known portrait of him.

His writings were published six decades after his death by Herman Boerhaave as Bybel der Natuure, of Historie der Insecten. Boerhaave edited out the extensive sections on religion, prepared Latin translation and the plates, and wrote a short biography. He also used "Jan" on the title page, though Swammerdam called himself Johannes.

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Extracts of Two Letters of Dr. Swammerdam, Concerning Some Animals, That Having Lungs are Yet Found to be without the Arterious Vein; together with Some Other Curious Particulars. Phil. Trans. January 1, 1673 8:6040-6042

Extracts of Three Letters: ... The Second, of Dr. Swammerdam, Touching an Un-Usual Rupture of the Mesentery. Phil. Trans. January 1, 1675 10:272-279

Bybel der Natuure, of Historie der Insecten

English translation: The Book of Nature, or, The History of Insects